£300m boost for adult social care workforce through winter

Government says money can be used on bonuses, pay rises or more staff and comes amid mounting concerns over shortages and winter pressures

Home care worker speaking to older person

The government has given the adult social care workforce a £300m boost through the winter which providers can use to increase staffing numbers or pay.

The money, which lasts until March 2022, almost trebles winter workforce funding, topping up the the £162.5m recruitment and retention fund announced in October.

However, the total, £462.5m, falls far short of the £1.5bn directors have been calling for and comes with data showing a deteriorating situation for the workforce as it enters winter.

Deteriorating picture

Latest Skills for Care figures show average vacancies – among providers who have submitted data – rose from 8.9% in October to 9.2% in November, having been 6.1% in April. For care workers, the figure was 11.3%, registered managers 11.6% and registered nurses 17.4%, while in domiciliary care it was 12%.

At the same time, filled posts have fallen month-on-month since July and were 3.4% below March 2021 levels in November, whereas among care workers it was 4.3%.

Other data shows the shortages leading to mounting unmet need. In a snapshot survey of members in November, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services found mounting waiting lists for assessments and personal budgets and a 164% increase in commissioned home care hours left undelivered between May-July and August-September.

The parlous situation appears to have been driven by a number of factors:

  • The government’s own estimates showing just short of 40,000 jobs being lost in the care home sector from its introduction of mandatory Covid-19 vaccination for staff in November.
  • Similar estimates – just out – suggesting 35,000 out of about 500,000 affected home care and other community-based care staff will leave their jobs as a result of mandatory vaccination coming in for them next April.
  • Pay trends that have seen sectors including retail and cleaning outstripping social care.
  • Lack of pay progression, with care staff with five years’ experience earning just 6p an hour more than those with less than a year’s experience.
  • Sickness absence rates for care staff having doubled from 2019-20 to 2020-21, in the light of Covid, though rates have fallen since April.
  • A significant drop in the supply of new staff from overseas from 2019 to 2021, following tightened post-Brexit immigration rules.

Pay, bonuses and more staff

The Department of Health and Social Care said the £300m could be used to fund bonuses, bring forward pay rises and boost staffing capacity, through overtime and staff banks.

The reference to bonuses follows nationwide awards to care staff across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and some local areas in England awarding staff bonuses, funded by councils or the NHS.

Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said: “This new funding will support our incredible workforce by recruiting new staff and rewarding those who have done so much during this pandemic.”

The DHSC also said it expected the funding to reduce pressures on the NHS by boosting social care capacity in order to cut delayed discharges from hospital.

Vaccines boosted and visits limited

It also announced that it would expand specialist vaccination teams to ensure all care home staff, residents, those who are housebound and their carers are offered a Covid-19 booster vaccine. So far, more than 70% of older adult care home residents have received a booster.

At the same time, visits to care homes are due to be restricted to three people, plus an essential care giver, per resident, to help curb the spread of the virus. Essential care givers can visit residents more frequently but must follow the same testing arrangements as care home staff.

On testing, care home staff will need to do a lateral flow test three times a week, up from two, alongside a weekly PCR test.

Councils have been given £388m over the winter period to channel to providers to fund Covid infection control and testing.


4 Responses to £300m boost for adult social care workforce through winter

  1. Keith December 11, 2021 at 1:02 pm #

    Tax payers top up the pay of staff employed by for profit companies and hedge funds is a more accurate headline. I mean, why would you expect employers to pay their staff decent wages. Universal Credit for low pay workers by another name. Well done ADASS.

    • Chris Sterry December 13, 2021 at 3:26 pm #

      True there are some care providers who do cream off money but they are few and far between.

      I am a family carer, those who care and are unpaid, but with advancing years and deteriorating health I now can’t provide the care required. So I applied to our Local Authority for a Direct Payment so I could employ carers myself and when we did in 1988 the rate allowed by our Local Authority was very good, but since 2010 when it was £7.20 per hour the value of the rate continued to deteriorate.

      From 2011 to 2015 I was allowed only one rate uplift, which brought the rate to £8.00 per hour and in 2016 requested another and that was granted in 2019 to £9.00 per hour.

      During 2020 no uplifts were allowed for anyone using Direct Payments, but a good uplift was granted in 2021 being £9.50 per hour.

      However, while it was a good rate in care those care workers could have earned around £14 per hour in a supermarket or Amazon, with much less experience and responsibility required.

      So, the rate for care work is in no way sufficient and no I am not creaming off any money for the LA only pays sufficient for the rate in question. Care workers in providers are getting similar.

      By saying what you do you are degrading care workers and the whole care profession.

      Hardly anyone wishes to come into care to receive abysmal rewards. For to do care work to a good recognised standard considerable training, dedication and the will to provide good quality care is required.

      The miserly £300million goes nowhere near far enough, as it is well short of the required £1.5 billion requested. Even that falls far short of what is required to bring pay levels back to 2010, which would require at least £12 billion.

      But, even that falls far short of what should be coming from this Government, for it is not just pay rates that need to be improved.

      There needs to be a

      recognised sick pay arrangement

      alterations to the UK Immigration regulations to allow more persons wishing to do care work from outside the UK

      sufficient travel expenses

      allowances for unsocial hours working

      and much more.

      Care work is in very grave danger of being ‘run into the ground’ causing even more problems for persons requiring care, leading to calamitous deteriorations of persons in need of care and also their families, which will greatly increase the demand for care from the NHS.

      We are quickly sliding into Victorian conditions, when care for the poor and vulnerable was non-existent.

      • Keith December 14, 2021 at 12:56 am #

        Actially I am not degrading care workers. Far from. I an decrying the employers who seem to think tax payers should pay the wages of staff in perpetuity so the risk rests with the public purse while the profit stays with them. Direct Payments are individual allowances so I am not sure of the analogy with company staff pay that you are making Chris. By the way, look at the time I am writing this. I am not a social worker, just a mere care worker and I just finished my shift. Divide and rule is not my thing. Decent pay for employees and decent pay for family carers. How does that sound?

  2. Carol December 13, 2021 at 12:20 pm #

    How do you increase staffing numbers without increasing pay? A lot of domiciliary social carers don’t get their petrol paid, still have15 minute calls on their rota’s and have a lot of responsibility for administering medication and many other tasks, which should be down to district nurses but there is a shortage there, all done for a minimum wage. There is very little that can attract more caring people to these jobs without a true recognition of what they are expected to do and then to significantly raise the pay and not just for the winter.